Step Five: Site Content Analysis and Revision
Once you have a complete sitemap, your team can begin the process of site review, analysis and content revision for each page on the site.
As part of that process, you will want to consider the following:
- Looking Ahead to Creating Content in KU CMS - Sunflower
- Where and how will you track content revisions
- Writing Content for Audiences
- General best practices for web content
- Review and update all content to meet web-writing best practices
- Correct use of page titles and header classes
- Delete unnecessary content and/or pages
Looking Ahead to Creating Content in KU CMS - Sunflower
Before you begin your site content analysis and revision, you will want to take a thorough look at the way content is created and displayed in KU CMS – Sunflower.
In most instances, it will not be possible to simply copy and paste your current content into a page on your new site. Instead, you will want to thoughtfully plan each new page to best meet the needs of your intended audience.
We strongly recommend you take the time to understand how to use KU CMS – Sunflower and explore all the new sections and clonable templates before you begin the process of content analysis and revision. Doing a deep-dive on KU CMS – Sunflower first will help you to think about how your content will display and function on your new site while you are reviewing and revising it.
Learning About KU CMS – Sunflower Before You Have Access to Your Site
KU CMS – Sunflower will be released to the full KU CMS community on Sept. 8. Until you have your own KU CMS – Sunflower site, there are several ways to learn about KU CMS – Sunflower:
- cms.ku.edu – In mid-July, cms.ku.edu will be updated to exclusively detail information and resources for KU CMS – Sunflower. The site will include detailed information about the new sections and clonable templates, including galleries of examples.
- KU Admissions - admissions.ku.edu is the first live KU CMS – Sunflower site. The site was built almost entirely using the new sections and clonable templates that will be available to you.
- Workshops - CMS workshops are expected to begin in mid-to-late-August
Tracking Content Revisions
Your site migration site map spreadsheet is a great place to capture a snapshot of your site and create a roadmap for your team’s workflow. However, it is not the best place to work on copy editing and writing.
We recommend creating a separate document that the members of the team can share to use for copy editing and writing. The final version of that document can then be shared with content and site approvers for review.
Here is an example content review and revision Word document that you can use and/or modify to meet your specific needs: KU CMS Site Migration Content Review/Revision Template (.docx).
Writing Content for Audiences
Once you have identified your primary and secondary audiences, you can tailor your content to meet their specific needs. Every piece of content and aspect of design on your website – text, images, graphics, colors, layout, formatting, organization, etc. - should be passed through the filter of audience.
Make sure every page on your site takes into account the intended audience and makes the necessary adjustments to meet their specific needs. Always ask yourself, does this content add value for the intended audience. If not, consider removing it or changing it to add value.
According to Nielsen Norman Group’s Kate Moran in The Biggest Mistake in Writing for the Web (video), “The number one biggest mistake in writing for the web is not understanding the people who will be reading the content.” Moran goes on to say there are three questions you need to ask to ensure your content is meeting the needs of your target audience(s):
- Who are you writing for?
- Ask yourself, what do they know?
- Use that information to identify knowledge gaps and fill them
- Use that information to avoid using jargon
- What do they want?
- Ask yourself, what are their goals? Why are users reading it? What are they looking for?
- Adjust your format and structure to best serve those goals and needs
- Adjust your content to ensure you are adding value for your target audiences in everything you include
- What do you want?
- Ask yourself, what do you hope will happen from the copy?
- What impact will that have on the reader?
- What actions do you want them to take?
Source: The Biggest Mistake in Writing for the Web (video) (Nielsen Norman Group)
Additional Tips for Writing for Specific Audiences
- Write your web copy like you speak – use clear, positive and active language
- Use the words you think your target audience(s) would use conversationally
- Use the words you think your target audience(s) would search for in a search engine
- Consider the journeys the members of your target audiences will likely take on your site.
- Can they find what they are likely looking for quickly and easily?
- Is anything getting in their way and making them work to find what they need?
- All web content (text, images, graphics, etc.) should be tailored for specific audience(s).
Applying General Best Practices for Web Content
All web pages and content should be:
- Concise and clear
- Not redundant
Updating All Content for Web-Writing Best Practices
Why Update/Rewrite Everything?
Both users and search engines expect, and benefit from, web content that is clear, concise and highly-organized. Additionally, well-written content and headings are among the best ways to improve user experience and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Site migration presents a rare opportunity to look across your entire website and create a consistent user experience through modern web-writing.
Removing Paragraph Density
Conventional paragraph-dense long-form writing practices are not appropriate for web content (e.g., reports, papers, letters, etc.), so every effort should be made to copyedit all site content to meet modern web-writing best practices. Historically, many KU CMS pages were created using paragraph-dense printed documents. If you have pages on your site that function more like print documents, now is a great time to bring that content up to modern web-writing standards.
Make Pages Easy to Scan
Users scan webpages - they do not read them like a paper or book. According to the Nielsen Norman Group, “On the average Web page, users have time to read at most 28% of the words during an average visit; 20% is more likely.” Over time, web researchers have observed many different types of web reading patterns as users work to find the information they are seeking. Your goal should be to make your pages easily scannable to reduce the amount of work users have to do to find what they are looking for.
According to the Nielsen Norman Group, here are some essential ways to make your pages more scannable:
- Use plain language – keep content concise and clear
- Use clear, noticeable headings and sub-headings
- Place information up front
- Use formatting like bulleted lists and bold text
- Reduce paragraph density
- Design pages with clear and logical organization and flow
Web Writing Best Practices
All web copy should follow these web writing best practices:
- Use plain language
- Be clear and concise
- Write for an 8th to 10th reading level
- Use bulleted lists to make content easier to read and scan quickly
- Paragraphs should be one to three sentences maximum (except when writing news- and/or blog-style articles)
- Avoid lengthy paragraphs and flowery text. Even highly-educated viewers typically prefer clear language when seeking information on the web.
- Use well-written headings and sub-headings to make it easier for users to scan for the info they are seeking (it also helps SEO).
- If necessary, provide additional “deep-dive” information in accessible linked documents
- Spell out all acronyms on first use. Unless used numerous times in a single section, use the full title throughout. Avoid acronyms in headers and sub-heads. Unless you are certain that 100% of your audience will know the acronym, it is best to provide it in full on first use.
- Avoid antiquated terminology like “click.” Instead use “select,” which works for both mouse and touchscreen navigation.
Correct Use of Header Classes
Correct use of header classes (e.g., H1, H2, H3…) is critical to for your site’s usability, SEO (search engine optimization) and accessibility. This essential element of website design and writing is too often overlooked, but it is one of the most important determinants of user experience on your site.
Page Titles vs. Header 1
In KU CMS - SUNFLOWER, you must add both a page title and a Header 1 (H1) to each page. There should only ever be one H1 on any page.
As a general rule, the page title should be the same as the Header 1 (H1). However, there are times when after careful consideration your page title and H1 may need to be different.
Examples of times when a page title and H1 might differ:
- Page title: About
Header one: About Pharmacology & Toxicology
- Page title: Research
Header one: Our Research
Header Classes Are Not for Aesthetics
Header classes should never be used to achieve aesthetic goals like bolding or font size. Header classes should be deployed carefully and strategically for page organization and searchability. If you need to change the appearance of a header class, use CSS to modify the styles while preserving the structural value of the header class.
Only One Header 1 Per Page
There should only be one Header 1 (H1) on any given page. Header classes represent the hierachy and organization of your page. All other content should flow in order of importance below that main topic. If you feel you need a second Header 1 (H1) on your page, you need to create a separate page.
Using the Correct Header Tag
Headers that use header classes tell users, search engines and screen readers the hierarchy of information on the page, as well as how the various sections relate.
Just like headers in a common word document, header classes create an index within the page that helps users find the information they’re seeking. Page titles and Header 1's (H1) are the top-level of importance and all sections on the page should relate. Header 2's (H2) are the second most important information on the page and so on.
Screen Readers and Header Order
Clear and well-written headers are critical when a user is listening to your pages with a screen reader (e.g., JAWS, VoiceOver, etc.). Take the time to imagine how your web pages would sound if they were read aloud.
Also, keep in mind that screen readers allow users to tab through a webpage from header to header. Headers must be ordered logically with only one Header 1 (H1) per page and the rest of the headers ordered logically to meet accessibility requirements and provide a quality user experience. For example, you must have a Header 2 (H2) on the page before you should use a Header 3 (H3).
Searchability + Search Engine Optimization
Like screen readers, search engines in browsers also look at the hierarchy of information on your pages based on the header classes. That information is used to create your search results.
Select your header classes and write your headers with organic searching in mind. If a user is seeking your information, what are they likely to type into a search engine (e.g., Google, Yahoo, Bing). It is especially important that make sure all your page titles and H1 are optimized for searchability.
Writing Effective Headers
- Headers should be simple and concise – use as few words as possible
- Use plain language
- Avoid jargon and acronyms
- Front load headers with key terms – Think about the search terms users would choose when looking for that info
Front Loading Key Terms
One writing strategy that impacts the effectiveness and searchability of your headers is the location of key words. Always front load headers and sub-headers with the key words (i.e., search terms) so they are the first or second word in the phrase.
- Not Front Loaded: Alternative Treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Front Loaded: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Healed by Birds
Page titles, headings and sub-headings are all examples of “micro-content.” In short, for websites, micro-content is content that allows users to scan a page quickly and understand what information is available without reading further for additional context.
Viewers make decisions based on the quality of a site’s micro-content. Ask yourself “Can viewers find what they’re looking for using only the headings and sub-headings?”
Deleting Unnecessary Pages and Content
Website content should be reviewed regularly for accuracy and performance. We recommend your unit/department reviews your entire website at least twice a year for any necessary updates, including culling any unnecessary content/pages. Reducing unnecessary content and pages on your site will result in a cleaner and less cluttered user experience.
During your site migration review and analysis look for the following opportunities to reduce/remove unnecessary content:
- Content that is inaccurate, out of date, and/or not needed that can be deleted
- Content that does not add value and/or support the unit/department’s goals for the site
- Content that does not add value for your primary audience(s)
- Valuable content on poorly performing pages that can be moved to a relevant strategic new location
- Plain Language is for Everyone, Even Experts (Nielsen Norman Group)
- Writing Digital Copy for Specialists vs. General Audiences (Nielsen Norman Group)
- Video: The Biggest Mistake in Writing for the Web (Nielsen/Norman Group)
- Be Succinct! (Writing for the Web) (Nielsen/Norman Group)
- Applying Writing Guidelines to Web Pages (Nielsen/Norman Group)
- Writing Style for Print vs. Web (Nielsen/Norman Group)
- Concise, SCANNABLE, and Objective: How to Write for the Web (Nielsen/Norman Group)
- Writing for the Web (Usability.gov)
- Microcontent: A Few Small Words Have a Mega Impact on Business (Nielsen Norman Group)
- Company Name First in Microcontent? Sometimes? (Nielsen Norman Group)